It sets your heart on fire

How you listen to music

“I can never hear lyrics. I’ve got a real dyslexia with lyrics.”
Paul Abbott, scriptwriter of Channel 4’s ‘Shameless‘ on Desert Island Discs

It was interesting to hear this throw-away remark (I missed it when I listened to the first broadcast last weekend), interesting because I have a similar relationship to song lyrics. Strange for a lover of Dylan and similar but I really struggle to engage with lyrics in a whole or analytical way. They’re more like part of an audio collage to me. Glints of light, a diamond spinning in the dark.

A good rounded choice from Mr Shameless punctuating a raw, honest, insightful and illuminating interview:

1.Good Vibrations
Performer The Beach Boys
Composer B Wilson-M Love

2.Ode to Billie Joe
Performer Bobbie Gentry
Composer Gentry

3.Sweet Soul Music
Performer Arthur Conley
Composer Conley/Cooke/Redong

4.Imagine
Performer John Lennon
Composer John Lennon

5.Children of the Revolution
Performer T Rex
Composer Marc Bolan

6.Town Called Malice
Performer The Jam
Composer Paul Weller

7.Video Lullaby
His son Tom Abbott with his band Kid4077

8.The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
Performer Roberta Flack
Composer Ewan MacColl

Record: Town Called Malice
Book: Complete works of Arthur Miller
Luxury: Writing pad and pencils

Particularly like his One Record – it’s an explosive song, brilliantly exploited in ‘Billy Elliott’ – a kicking the wall song. Yes, really kicking. He zooms in on it as an expression of creative anger, constructive shouting, exactly as his writing is.

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34 comments so far

  1. ArkAngel on

    practicalpsychologist said…
    at least 6 great tracks in that lot and I have a very soft spot for the Jam track – I remember buying it and I think the B side was pretty good too. The one exception is Imagine. I have a total blind spot with this one. I think it is awful. ‘Imagine, no possessions’ …while sat by a huge white grand piano in a great big mansion while addicted to smack!

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  2. dandavies23 on

    My girlfriend told me about this. She too suffers from this affliction. I must say it baffles me that people can’t remember lyrics – especially writers! Great music alone is superb but genius for me is a well honed lyric.

    Especially suprising is that he’s included Paul Weller in the Jam was when he was at his lyrical pinnacle:

    “A hundred lonely housewifes clutching milk bottles to their hearts.”

    Just sublime.

    Saying that T-Rex’s were always nonsense but didn’t stop them being good songs.

    RE John Lennon – Pop star in hipocrisy shocker!;-)

    I think Paul Macartney was lyrically the strongest in The Beatles, it’s just ‘cos he lived on to write the Frog Chorus that killed it.

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  3. ArkAngel on

    It’s not about remembering lyrics – it’s about hearing them as a whole in the first place, as opposed to in snatches or fragments. My mind wanders from words to music to both together to rhythm to pictures, struggling to take in the whole or follow the narrative. As I say, something like a collage. It doesn’t stop me loving songs, there’s just a completely different experience to be had concentrating properly on the lyrics from beginning to end.

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  4. dandavies23 on

    I quite agree. Not all songs have complete narratives though. Often it’s as much about the sounds of words than their meaning.

    Part of the reason why I think I remember them is because I’m probably conciously or unconsciously solving riddles in my head.

    Like for example I’m a massive Smiths fan and 20 years on I’m still hearing new elements and inferring new meaning. In fact I know there’s a book devoted to fans’ readings of songs.

    Seeing as we’ve been chatting about Michael Franti elsewhere, if you have chance I suggest you listen to Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy and read these lyrics. http://www.asklyrics.com/display/Disposable_Heroes_Of_Hiphoprisy
    /Language_Of_Violence_Lyrics/319075.htm

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  5. ArkAngel on

    Didn’t mean to imply all songs have narratives but was too lazy to spell it out (did think about it for a nano-second but couldn’t quite summon up the energy at the time).

    The importance of the sounds of the words independent (more or less) from their meaning is what i have been trying to get at. I easily get focused on sounds, phrases, fragments at the expense of the whole.

    I have got Chocolate Supahighway stashed in my cupboard downstairs somewhere but it was Spearhead which got me really into Michael Franti and Stay Human is the gold standard for me.

    I tend to go for more poetic(?), oblique lyrics than the directness of Language of Violence (which is not a song i know).

    So hit me with it – top 3 lyricists ever (in order)…

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  6. dandavies23 on

    Sorry about the slow response. Haven’t checked in for a while.

    OK top 3 lyricists:

    Morrissey
    Billy Bragg
    Michael Franti

    You must hear Language Of Violence, does your e-mail address take quite chunky mail? Let me know and I’ll send it to you.

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  7. ArkAngel on

    Morrissey I particularly like for his clarity of diction, every word crystal clear – a real art. Nancy Sinatra says he has the best diction since her dad.

    Billy Bragg – I can certainly see the attraction – he has a great grounded honesty.

    Michael Franti I love above all for his committed performances.

    On the lyricist front I think I’d go for:
    * Bob Dylan – especially the more surreal stuff like Ballad of a Thin Man.

    You walk into the room
    With your pencil in your hand
    You see somebody naked
    And you say: “Who is that man?”
    You try so hard
    But you don’t understand
    Just what you’ll say
    When you get home.

    * Frank Loesser – who wrote Guys & Dolls, basically really funny:

    It says here:
    “The average unmarried female
    Basically insecure
    Due to some long frustration may react
    With psychosomatic symptoms
    Difficult to endure
    Affecting the upper resperatory tract.”

    In other words, just from waiting around for that plain little band of gold
    A person can develop a cold.

    Not quite sure about #3 so I’ll try this for size…
    * Bruce Springsteen – the Richard Price of lyricists:

    Well, they blew up the chicken man in Philly last night.
    Now, they blew up his house too.
    Down on the boardwalk they’re gettin ready for a fight
    Gonna see what them racket boys can do.

    Now, there’s trouble bustin in from outta state
    And the D.A. can’t get no relief
    Gonna be a rumble out on the promenade
    And the gamblin commission’s hangin on by the skin of his teeth

    Well now, everything dies, baby, that’s a fact
    But maybe everything that dies someday comes back
    Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty
    And meet me tonight in Atlantic City.

    For me that’s Rumblefish meets The Wanderers.

    I reckon it’s time to bus in my friend Doug for his Top 3…

    Doug?

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  8. Practical Psychologist on

    You have me on my weakspot! I was never really one for lyrics – the reason I cannot connect with Dylan for example. But I would go for Gil Scot Heron – H2O Gate Blues, Save The Children, Revolution will not be televised (well parodied by Franti), Winter in America etc. and his greatest track in my view ‘Beginnings’. He is almost the only person I listen to when I hear the words first and the music after.

    The amateur schoolboy romantic poet in me would like to say Nick Drake. His lyrics were crap if you actually read them but I like them. But I prefer John Martyn (‘if you kissed the stars out of the sky for me’). And the lyrics on Grace and Danger album as he was splitting uo from Beverley.

    My final selection is an odd one and more for the way he wrote lyrics when he was at his best. As one who has a passionate interest in creative thinking I love the way that Bowie when he was at his best used to create lyrics out of newspaper clippings. So we end up with:

    ‘Fleas the size of rats and rats the size of cats and ten thousand peopleoids…’

    or

    ‘Sitting in the market square, so many mothers sighing, news had just come over, earth was really dying’

    or

    ‘his nebulous body swayed above, his tongue smouldered with devil’s love, snaking high, venom high…’

    Nonsense really but enjoyable nonsense. I love the way that a random collecting of things can come together in such a stimulating way to create a whole. I have been re-visiting Bowie recently after a 20 year separation and I just think what a genius we had in our midst.

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  9. ArkAngel on

    I just gave my 6 year old a Bowie compilation (Changes) and it’s going down well – so I’m likewise revisiting (after a couple of years, not twenty). So here’s a new Top 3 – Bowie songs (in the round, not just on the basis of lyrics). I’m just going off to reflect so you or Dan can go first if you want.

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  10. ArkAngel on

    By the way you’re clearly getting interference from ‘Starless and Bible-black’, I’m pretty sure it’s daytime and it’s the sun being kissed out of the sky:

    “If you kissed the sun right out of the sky for me”

    although an interesting change and I prefer your night-time version as it’s a harder task with all them little biddy stars.

    Recently found out I share a birthday with Mr Martyn, because before that it was just the likes of DH Lawrence, Pierre de Ronsard and Herbert Lom, not great. Oh, and Franz Beckenbauer. John Martyn’s birth date is often published wrong as being in April not September for some reason.

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  11. Practical Psychologist on

    There’s a challenge. Today it would be the following:

    1.Moonage Daydream
    2.Beauty and the Beast
    3.Width of a Circle

    With ‘Memory of a free festival’, ‘Lady Grinning Soul’ and ‘Diamond Dogs’ close. A really good one to do with Bowie is albums and I go for the following:

    1. Heroes
    2. Ziggy (the first album I ever purchased)
    3. Diamond Dogs

    With Hunky Dory and Scary Monsters next up. I am not a great fan of Aladdin Sane (LGS apart)or the overrated ‘Young Americans’ – white people don’t do soul.

    Re: John Martyn – I said I don’t go much for lyrics!

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  12. Practical Psychologist on

    I was writing until 3am this morning and had a personal Bowie fest. How about this for classic albums in a ten year period:

    Man Who Sold The World, Hunky Dory, Ziggy, Diamond Dogs, Station to Station, Low, Heroes, Scary Monsters.

    8 classics there and the ones I have left out are not bad either. There are not many others who have maintained that standard – particularly when you consider the range of styles.

    I have a very soft spot for his 1966-67 stuff too. I once owned a 1966 Canadian import of his Davy Jones and The Lower Third stuff. I sold it when I was a very broke student. What would it be worth now. …’it’s too bad, I’m not losing sleep, no it’s too bad, I’m just counting sheep…’ No wonder he reverted to the cut and paste method of lyric creation!

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  13. ArkAngel on

    Ok I’m plumping for these 3 Bowie tracks [today 😉 ] in order of preference:

    1. Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed

    The Space Oddity LP is very close to my heart – I could have easily chosen more than one track off of this beauty. I love this particular one for its build up to a crescendo of craziness, with its wild harmonica.

    2. Station to Station

    Another long, building track – reminds me of the Stage live record which was a teenage period when I really got hooked on the Thin White Duke.

    3. Let’s Dance

    I saw Bowie in Grenoble during this tour when I was living in South-East France – a great gig experienced from right up front with my good friend Mike Stewart from Toronto. It was the same year the movie Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence was at Cannes. I was quite taken with Bowie’s floppy English-blond fringed style of the time and got a real kick out of the liveliness and dancibility of the album. So basically it made me want to shake a leg.

    Other tracks it was hard to keep off this list include Little Wonder (from Earthling), Life on Mars?, Starman and Up the Hill Backwards (from Scary Monsters).

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  14. ArkAngel on

    This is a good little Bowie site: http://www.connollyco.com/discography/david_bowie/index.html

    Album-wise I love Space Oddity as detailed above and other highlights for me are:

    * Aladdin Sane

    Memories of a strange period when I got sick to the teeth of school, cruised in to A levels on the fat of the hard work before I got bored, retired to a room with a pile of Jane Austen and other books and this record.

    * Lodger

    Probably a bit over-looked but Boys Keep Swinging, for example, is Something Special. This came out as I was smitten with Punk. It was also at this point that Bowie introduced me to the work of the painter Egon Schiele. Five years later I was just outside Vienna in the village where Schiele had his studio, on a travel scholarship revolving around the great artist the other great artist had put me onto. So he’s had his influence on my life.

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  15. dandavies23 on

    My, this thread has travelled since I last checked it!

    Dylan and Bowie are great – though I admit that I have suffered from the ‘Get the best of’ syndrome with both.

    The catalogue is so vast and imposing that I have to have someone else as my selector. Any further collections have been what I’ve randomly picked up in charity shops, car boots etc. So I have a copy of Diamond Dogs, Blood On The Tracks, Blonde on Blonde, Freewheelin’ and Heroes in addition to my Changes, Best of Bob Dylan parts 1 and 2 and I’ve got some other updated Bowie best of also.

    The 10 Bowie ‘Golden Years’ was an incredible period of time – where he straddled art and pop with ease.

    I must admit I have a soft spot for the Bowie albums in my formative years so would like to add Outside and Earthling. Although there’s some real shite on there also!

    *** NAME DROP ALERT ****

    When I started Blowback we had him on our ‘interview wishlist.’ The closest I got was one of his record sleeve designers, a chap called Rex Ray from San Francisco (who also works at City Lights.) I got the contact through Douglas Coupland actually.

    By the way there was a really good ‘Revolution’ DJ set by Coldcut on the Breezeblock in 2000. I have it on MD somewhere. It has my favourite updated version of ‘Revolution’ called ‘Your Revolution’ by slam poet Sarah Jones and DJ Vadim.

    It’s about “Hip Hop’s illegitimate child Hip Pop” and mysogyny of bling culture.

    Here’s the lyrics:

    ping me if you haven’t heard it and I’ll e-mail it to you.

    “Your revolution will not happen between these thighs
    Your revolution will not happen between these thighs
    Will not happen between these thighs
    Will not happen between these thighs
    The real revolution ain’t about bootie size
    The Versaces you buys
    Or the Lexus you drives
    And though we’ve lost Biggie Smalls
    Maybe your notorious revolution
    Will never allow you to lace no lyrical douche in my bush
    Your revolution will not be you killing me softly with fugees
    Your revolution ain’t gonna knock me up without no ring
    And produce little future M.C.’s
    Because that revolution will not happen between these thighs
    Your revolution will not find me in the back seat of a jeep
    With L.L. hard as hell, you know
    Doing it and doing and doing it well, you know
    Doing it and doing it and doing it well
    Your revolution will not be you smacking it up, flipping it or rubbing it down
    Nor will it take you downtown, or humping around
    Because that revolution will not happen between these thighs
    Your revolution will not have me singing
    Ain’t no nigger like the one I got
    Your revolution will not be you sending me for no drip drip V.D. shot
    Your revolution will not involve me or feeling your nature rise
    Or having you fantasize
    Because that revolution will not happen between these thighs
    No no not between these thighs
    Uh-uh
    My Jamaican brother
    Your revolution will not make you feel bombastic, and really fantastic
    And have you groping in the dark for that rubber wrapped in plastic
    Uh-uh
    You will not be touching your lips to my triple dip of
    French vanilla, butter pecan, chocolate deluxe
    Or having Akinyele’s dream, um hum
    A six foot blow job machine, um hum
    You wanna subjugate your Queen, uh-huh
    Think I’m gonna put it in my mouth just because you
    Made a few bucks,
    Please brother please
    Your revolution will not be me tossing my weave
    And making me believe I’m some caviar eating ghetto
    Mafia clown
    Or me giving up my behind
    Just so I can get signed
    And maybe have somebody else write my rhymes
    I’m Sarah Jones
    Not Foxy Brown
    You know I’m Sarah Jones
    Not Foxy Brown
    Your revolution makes me wonder
    Where could we go
    If we could drop the empty pursuit of props and the ego
    We’d revolt back to our roots
    Use a little common sense on a quest to make love
    De la soul, no pretense, but
    Your revolution will not be you flexing your little sex and status
    To express what you feel
    Your revolution will not happen between these thighs
    Will not happen between these thighs
    Will not be you shaking
    And me, [sigh] faking between these thighs
    Because the real revolution
    That’s right, I said the real revolution
    You know, I’m talking about the revolution
    When it comes,
    It’s gonna be real
    It’s gonna be real
    It’s gonna be real
    When it finally comes
    It’s gonna be real”

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  16. practicalpsychologist on

    Where to start! I do feel that giving any ‘Bowie high point’ credibility to anything done post Scary Monsters is stretching it. Are we really suggesting that Earthling or Outside get anywhere near to his seventies output? Earthling up there with Ziggy or Diamond Dogs or Low or Heroes or Hunky Dory or Station To Station? Surely not. I personally feel that only Reality of his post-1980 output gets near.

    I think his weakest seventies albums were Lodger and Aladdin Sane. Great tracks on each of them but also some that don’t really work. His best albums have no weak points so I cannot see how Lodger and Aladdin Sane (or the nineties stuff) cut the mustard against this incredibly high standard. Of course, if anyone else had done them…

    Let’s Dance to me is utterly awful. As were the accompanying gigs. I remember Earl Slick trying to be Hendrix and it was the point where I got off the Bowie train and made the leap to Miles Davis. I do recall that The Beat supported Bowie on the Serious Moonlight tour in the UK and they were magnificent.

    Dan, I have seen her perform this rap. It is fantastic and of course borrows from Gil Scot-Heron’s ‘Revolution will not be Televised’ as well as the Disposable Heroes piece.

    Your mention of Douglas Coupland also suggests that we should do a top three Coupland novels list. Mine:

    1. Microserfs
    2. Generation X
    3. Eleanor Rigby

    His newest ‘Jpod’ was sadly a poor imititation of Microserfs and I hope he returns to form with the next one.

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  17. practicalpsychologist on

    I meant to say that ‘Heathen’ is the best of his post 1980 output, not ‘Reality’. Sorry.

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  18. dandavies23 on

    Yeah that Coldcut mix had about 4 versions of “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”

    I guess because I wasn’t around in the seventies (well… 4 when it ended) it doesn’t mean as much to me. I only got into him in retrospect. The classics and failures are pretty much established. But seeing him perform Outside on Jools Holland or first hearing Little Wonder at college was when I went back to the back catalogue.

    My parents were “Beatles fans only” so all of my exploration is done through Q magazine and later Uncut around this time (before the NME I might add). They’d pretty much set in stone what was good and what was bad from this era.

    Coupland novels. You didn’t like J-Pod? I thought it was better than Microserfs. I thought MS really dragged in the middle. Pace wise it had that slacker ‘not much happening’ feel that Gen x had. Though Gen X was spiced up by all that Pop Art and zeitgeisty dictionary.

    I liked the lap top dump idea better in J-pod and thought the plot was more driven to a sort of All Families Are Psychotic level.

    And you liked Eleanor Rigby? I found that thoroughly depressing! (sorry) Especially coming off the back off the double depression whammy of Girlfriend In A Coma and Hey Nostradamus.

    I’m going to go against the grain:

    1. J-Pod
    2. Miss Wyoming
    3. Hey Nostradamus

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  19. practicalpsychologist on

    I read Jpod while working in Kosovo last autumn and perhaps the atmosphere wasn’t right for reading it! I will re-read it over the next few weeks. But Microserfs made me laugh a lot and I have even quoted it several times in my pop psychology books. I just felt that MS hit the ‘zeitgeist’ of the time and had far more great one-liners than Jpod.

    Hey Nostradamus I think is the only one of his I haven’t read but maybe I liked Eleanor Rigby because it is the freshest in my mind. But Dan you are 10 years younger than me and us 40plus year olds like to be miserable and depressed. It goes with the territory!

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  20. ArkAngel on

    The radio silence on my part is a combination of having been away in Ireland these last few days (and internet-free) and having never read a word of Douglas Coupland to date. How embarrassing a revelation that is I’m not quite sure. Is it on a par with the drunken revelation by Lucky Jim in Amis Pere’s novel that he, an English lit lecturer, hasn’t read Hamlet? I’m not sure, but it does give rise to a new top 3 which will do your souls good. What are the 3 things you haven’t read but probably should have? Get it off your chest, lighten the load, lance that guilty secret, why dontcha?

    Here are mine:
    1. Matthew Arnold – he was always quoted in literary criticism at college but gradually it became a matter of pride to have this perfect lacuna of ignorance. Up til then that perfect blank space was held by Thomas Hardy, for no particular reason. Then one day I read a Hardy poem by accident and I had to find a new focus for my ignorance.
    2. Classic Russian novels – Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Turgenev,… – you name it, I haven’t read it. I’ve just got this strange lack of interest in all things Russian.
    3. Douglas Coupland – although I do have ‘All Families Are Psychotic’ on my bookshelf in the To Be Read queue.

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  21. dandavies23 on

    You’re possibly right about Eleanor Rigby I’ll give it another 10 years. To be fair it was dealing with a character more in his own age group rather than him hanging out with 20 somethings (quite literally in J-pod)

    I read Microserfs after J-Pod so totally missed the boat on that one!

    Didn’t you think that J-pod was very Web 2.0 / Generation Google?

    In total agreement with Matthew Arnold and Russian novels. I think the reason is that they’re also massive tomes! I feel as ignorant as people who reject films that are in Black and White saying that.

    Right my three are:

    1. Paul Auster. Two people who I really respect as journalists and friends absolutely love him yet I’ve just never got round to it.

    2. Alan Moore. I rejected the whole graphic novel thing for quite a while. Have since discovered Neil Gaiman but Alan Moore remains on my ‘to do’ list. It’s got so bad that I refuse to watch the films – even V for Vendetta – until I can compare to the comics.

    3. Kurt Vonnegut (RIP) Again always sounded right up my street maybe now’s the time. I’m sure they’ll be a grim cash-in load of reissues to get from Waterstones.

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  22. Psychological Travelling on

    I started to quite fancy the key character in Eleanor Rigby…even though DC highlights her physical ordinariness. So maybe it’s a sex thing.

    Private Eye’s review of Jpod was the ultimate in cynical writing ‘the pages of code more interesting than the narrative…’ etc. etc. I guess you have hit the right nail by saying that it depends which way round you have read them. Probably like old and new Bowie…to complete the debate! I recently had a book published on anxiety and I must admit that I pinched an idea of his from Jpod – what would say about yourself if you were auctioning yourself on ebay.

    As far books are concerned…just about everything.

    1. Beowulf
    2. The Bible
    3. The Story of the Eye (‘to completion’ – as it were)

    But I guess they are not in the spirit of Arkangel’s test. With you on classic Russian Novels. No Evelyn Waugh or Jerome K Jerome either.

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  23. Psychological Travelling on

    Of course – we could do a book version of Sean Rowley’s ‘Guilty Pleasures!

    Jackie Collins? Georgette Heyer? Harold Robbins? Danielle Steele? Rupert the Bear annuals? Jeffrey Archer?

    Actually ‘Archole’ is even beyond this…

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  24. ArkAngel on

    I hope you both feel better for off-loading that guilt. Now I do have to help you avoid neglecting things, you’ll regret. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.

    Dan, it is time for you to meet Alan Moore – may I propose The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, volume 1 for your introduction (forget about the movie, bears no relation). Then seek out a very interesting documentary – The Mindscape of Alan Moore http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0410321/ – to get a sense of the extraordinary mind behind the story.

    And Pyschological Traveller, for you it is Vile Bodies which must be broached as an introductory peace of war to be followed up by Brideshead or Sword of Honour.

    Now, on to Guilty Book Pleasures:
    1. Crap thrillers by the likes of Robert Crais – sub-TV California-set detective stories with private eyes in Hawaiian shirts taking cover behind conveniently-placed cliches.
    2. Edwardian thrillers by the likes of John Buchan, Sapper and Dornford Yates – non-PC imperialistic English daring-do.
    3. Dodgy war stories by the likes of the dreadful Jack Higgins – as totally devoid of literary merit as a Doodlebug crater. Although we can thank him, of course, for giving rise to that classic Michael Caine line: ‘Zat man vos a hero!’

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  25. dandavies23 on

    Right I’m ordering League next paycheck.

    Hmmm guilty pleasures books…

    My mum is a librarian and I was raised not to “read rubbish.” Enid Blighton was banned in my house.

    It’s so purged from my memory but I’m not even sure how to spell her name.

    Right

    1. Terry Pratchet books. Not cool at all but they always raise a chuckle.

    2. Star Trek books. One thing my mom didn’t keep me away from. Partly because she fancied Leonard Nimoy.

    3. Eats Shoots And Leaves by Lynne Truss. Makes me feel ever so Radio 4. Despite an English degree and a wealth of sub-editing experience it is now my only source of reference.

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  26. ArkAngel on

    Now you’ve hit a raw nerve. I HATE that Eats Shoots and Leaves. Crusty middle-age wank – scuse my Franglais. I had a very important language experience a few years ago in San Francisco. I walked into a bar called Vesuvius, next door to the famous City Lights bookstore, a hang-out of the Beat writers (both the bar and the shop). On the noticeboard by the door was pinned an email from an ex-barman, back to his former colleagues from his travels in South-East Asia. the email used minimal punctuation, just what you needed to understand clearly and it made for a lively energetic read full of the dynamism of travel and of a then still young written form – the email. and i thought thats exactly the approach email demands with its immediacy and casualness. so i believe in linguistic horses for courses + keeping language ALIVE and ENERGETIC and growing…

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  27. Practical Psychologist on

    I agree. It is the reason why french is such a stagnant language – and a reflection also of its stagnant society. We have five times the number of words in the english language than exist in french. The most vibrant societies have ever-changing language. It is also the signal to me of vibrant youth culture where that culture wants to send out a message about its identity through a distinctive language. Whether I happen to like that language is of course, irrelevant. My 65 year old dad today told me he fancied popping over to france to see me for a ‘week-end chillout’. I cannot imagine him using those words even two years ago!

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  28. Practical Psychologist on

    Read in the Sunday Times – the headteacher of a new academy:

    ‘Pupils will be able to hydrate during the learning experience’

    I presume he means that pupils will be able to drink water during class. Perhaps this flexible language has some downsides after all!

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  29. ArkAngel on

    That’s not flexible language – that’s not knowing the right horse for the course

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  30. ArkAngel on

    BTW big up to your dad – respect 😉

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  31. dandavies23 on

    I’m not going to waste too much of my time trussin’ Truss (as I believe the lingo is) but that’s actually her point. Punctuation were orginally printer marks, it’s only within the last century moved from “correct usage” to converying meaning. And the Beats and Modernists before can claim partial responsibility for that. One thing I couldn’t bear at Blowback was people who had read a bit of Kerouac and their writing was a rambling hazard of meaning. Sure, language is malleable – and English in particular is rich -but communication must remain central. I also believe people should think and re-read what they’ve written – all to often it’s thoughts off the top of people’s heads. As Capote said of Kerouac “That’s not writing; that’s typing”

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  32. ArkAngel on

    “I also believe people should think and re-read what they’ve written – all to often…” The whole thing’s a minefield, old fruit. Too, too vexing!

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  33. dandavies23 on

    That was my point. Blogging is a completely different kettle of fish.

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  34. ArkAngel on

    I was being cheeky about your proof-reading. But the underlying point is really how difficult it is to set yourself up as an arbiter of language, whether you’re a Truss or the Academie Francaise.

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